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Author Topic: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?  (Read 7069 times)

yewberry

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #30 on: June 26, 2014, 01:02:03 pm »
Quote from: pkanella;151138
I have no scientific background or training.


It really shows.  There's nothing wrong with not understanding science.  There's something wrong with claiming to.

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #31 on: June 26, 2014, 01:28:43 pm »
Quote from: pkanella;150982
I was raised to be a skeptic, and yet I feel powerfully drawn to pagan spirituality.  Is there a satisfactory way to reconcile empirical science with the actual existence of living, breathing pagan goddesses and gods?  Some science-fiction writer could probably pull it off, but would such deities be suitable for sincere belief?  Regardless, are these even meaningful questions to pose?

Similarly to what others have posted here, I don't think myths and science deal with the same kinds of questions or meaning so there is no conflict, just different realms of meaning.  There is also not necessarily a conflict with a belief in living breathing gods and science.  There is nothing to disprove that.  There may be no scientific evidence for it, either, but if you aren't claiming facts around the issue your beliefs are your business.

I believe in a type of existence for deities, spirits, fictional beings, and more but my approach to that is my own and not always shared by others, but it is a way I attempt to reconcile my skepticism with my belief.

I believe in the Buddhist concept of emptiness (so far as I understand it I might add).  I also don't believe in a ghost in the machine, anything driving my brain other than physical laws.  There is a sense in which my self is a narrative.

We have personal narratives and cultural narratives.  We live in them; they are the closest we can get to any underlying reality.

Gods and goddesses and other like entities are a part of various personal and collective narratives of "truth" and can have a real impact on our world for believers and skeptics alike.  In my belief they have a different type of existence from me and different type of sentience, but we are both equally empty of an essential self and also both equally alive in the narratives.  These narratives are a part of the universe in that they emerge from those sentient bits of the cosmos that create narratives.

If I'm petitioning for something, like money, and a friend unexpectedly offers to help me out, the spirit I petitioned is a part of the narrative I create around that.  That person becomes an extension of that spirit or god/saint to me.  This is similar to how Buddhists think of the bodhisattvas - that person who fed the homeless man is an arm of a bodhisattva.  In a sense the spirits and saints I cherish really are physical to me, and very real, and this view of it doesn't conflict with my skepticism.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2014, 01:37:51 pm by EclecticWheel »
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Airelinn

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2014, 11:18:20 am »
Quote from: pkanella;150982
I was raised to be a skeptic, and yet I feel powerfully drawn to pagan spirituality.  Is there a satisfactory way to reconcile empirical science with the actual existence of living, breathing pagan goddesses and gods?  Some science-fiction writer could probably pull it off, but would such deities be suitable for sincere belief?  Regardless, are these even meaningful questions to pose?

 
I feel your feels. :p  I was raised by a scientist and we went to church most Sundays and read verses of the bible off of little cards before dinner...as I grew older I read the bible myself and tried to pray, but over time I couldn't reconcile my knowledge of science and a hard belief in an existing deity. It's still a struggle to this day....

Lately, the way I've personally tried to reconcile spirituality and my science background, has been to see religion as symbolic and metaphorical. I don't believe that gods exist as you or I do.  I don't believe that if I cast a spell, I'm actually changing some unknown physical force...but what I do get from all of this (or am starting to) is that it gives my subconscience something to cling to in order to better understand myself and my place in my life. I've gotten really into Carl Jung's work lately, about symbology and the subconscience too.

I know that this is not everyone's experience.  It's just that even though I'm not actually TRYING to make science and spirituality/religion jive together, my brain just can't let go.  I WISH I could believe in gods as real and spells as something that effects the world physically but I just CAN'T. But I feel more and more like I NEED spirituality or ritual of at least some kind. So for me, it's purely metaphorical at this point. I don't think I'm the only one, either...and I feel like this problem may be part of the whole "God shaped hole" thing.

If we modernized religion, it might help some people out, I agree. I kind of see the beginnings of this in, for example, the Catholic Church in that the new pope is kind of trying to get with the modern social climate. But I definitely think if any religion is to survive, that's a necessity.

Kahina

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #33 on: July 26, 2014, 05:17:49 pm »
Quote from: pkanella;150982
Is there a satisfactory way to reconcile empirical science with the actual existence of living, breathing pagan goddesses and gods?

 
I don't worship any deities, so that's a bit hard for me to say - I do know, however, that as somebody studying a science (psychology), and as a witch, it's not particularly difficult, as odd as that sounds. As I see it, science can allow us to understand many things, but it has limitations. Not only that, but science is informed by culture - what we know, and choose to study  - reflects the values society holds. It's prone to its own flaws and biases as well, so I see science as only one of many possible ways to explain the phenomenon around us.

What cannot adequately be explained by science, I find, is where magic begins. The mysticism that surrounds many a things (i.e. paranormal phenomena) is very much around us, eluding any proper, logical explanation.

I also think it depends on the situation. When you're exploring a topic, and you move from the 'hard skeptic' lens to the 'practioneer' lens, which explanation do you find fits better? What feels right? It's a bit of a balancing act, but that's what I've done when I've come across something I had a hard time believing (at first).
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carillion

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #34 on: July 26, 2014, 06:08:16 pm »
Quote from: pkanella;150982
I was raised to be a skeptic, and yet I feel powerfully drawn to pagan spirituality.  Is there a satisfactory way to reconcile empirical science with the actual existence of living, breathing pagan goddesses and gods?  Some science-fiction writer could probably pull it off, but would such deities be suitable for sincere belief?  Regardless, are these even meaningful questions to pose?

No, I think not.

On the other hand, I don't think it matters. The question can only be meaningful if a comparison is possible and in this case it isn't possible.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2014, 06:09:42 pm by carillion »

Aett of Cups

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #35 on: October 01, 2014, 09:01:31 pm »
Quote from: pkanella;150982
I was raised to be a skeptic, and yet I feel powerfully drawn to pagan spirituality.  Is there a satisfactory way to reconcile empirical science with the actual existence of living, breathing pagan goddesses and gods?  Some science-fiction writer could probably pull it off, but would such deities be suitable for sincere belief?  Regardless, are these even meaningful questions to pose?

 
This is an excellent question that I often consider.  For me, there is a common ground for my belief in science and my spirituality - they're both based on faith in certain data and postulates (even if they aren't the same ones) and sensory input (even if the senses - or possibly the objects of their apprehension, or both - are different).

I think my belief in experiential and moral relativism also helps reconcile my faith in the otherworld and my faith in science as we comprehend it (so far) in the physical world.  I don't guess I believe in anything that's provably real outside my perception of my own senses, but I don't think that should stop me from acting in the best manner I can for the set of circumstances I perceive.  For me, paganism is the right choice because it enhances my life; it doesn't matter to me if it's empirically real.  No other system - science or anything else - has disproven my faith, which is of practical use even if none of these experiences exist in a way another could observe.  And science is also a logical choice because it demonstrates tendencies that I perceive to be useful in interpreting the physical world I believe I inhabit and making it better (in my perception).
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EJay

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #36 on: October 03, 2014, 03:35:53 am »
Quote from: pkanella;150982
I was raised to be a skeptic, and yet I feel powerfully drawn to pagan spirituality.  Is there a satisfactory way to reconcile empirical science with the actual existence of living, breathing pagan goddesses and gods?  Some science-fiction writer could probably pull it off, but would such deities be suitable for sincere belief?  Regardless, are these even meaningful questions to pose?


I've never had a problem with this because my UPG is very similar to Plato's "Allegory of the Cave."  I believe this reality is a shadow of God and is God's way of seeing God.  It can't be argued scientifically:  "How do you know God exists?"  "Because we do."

I'm very Pythagorean in believing that "Thou Art God" and that mathematics is the language of God.  I'm a biologist by training and the more I learn, the more I see the patterns, and the more I feel everything, including myself, as God.

In college, I used to have a discussion with another science student about this very thing.  He was an atheist and would ask me what good is God if everything can be explained scientifically.  I told him that you can explain the shadow scientifically, but the shadow wouldn't exist without the Forms (from Plato) or God.  It was an unwinnable discussion, but was sometimes very lively!

I'm also a hard polytheist and believe that the gods exist as much as the trees and rocks.  I see no discrepancy.  It always bugs me when aliens visit earth in the movies and they all speak english.  Why would we assume that the gods would speak to us in our verbal language?  They speak to us through this reality we live in, which includes the sciences and the intuitions and all the other things that science will one day encompass, and it's almost always up to us to learn their language instead of vice versa.

When Pele communicates with me, the best metaphor I can use is from the movie, "Final Destination," where they talk about an "in-your-face irony kind of thing."  Most of the times, it's through something that's explainable through science but has that "feeling" that goes with it.

It's a whole separate thread, but I think modern science is closing the gap between God (or gods), especially with quantum and astrophysics.
If you understand, things are just as they are.  If you do not understand, things are just as they are.

Adaire

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #37 on: October 03, 2014, 08:58:36 pm »
Quote from: EJay;160963
I've never had a problem with this because my UPG is very similar to Plato's "Allegory of the Cave."  I believe this reality is a shadow of God and is God's way of seeing God.  It can't be argued scientifically:  "How do you know God exists?"  "Because we do."

...mathematics is the language of God...

...you can explain the shadow scientifically, but the shadow wouldn't exist without the Forms (from Plato) or God...

I'm also a hard polytheist and believe that the gods exist as much as the trees and rocks.  I see no discrepancy...

^^ This, science is just the language and tool that we use to explain what we perceive. Though in our society it is considered to have almost divine authority, even though various scientific theories in all fields have been proven wrong, or tweaked and whitewashed to appeal to social trends.

For me, the study of science highlights divinity. How easy it  is to see the divine in the process of life. For example, when the ductus arteriosis & foramen ovale close at just the right moment at birth so an infant's circulatory system goes from linked with the mother to independent. Yes, it's evolution, yes, there is a physical reason it happens, but it is also beautiful and super complex and being able to explain the process does not remove the miracle for me, YMMV of course.


Edited to add periods and break up a massive run on sentence...
« Last Edit: October 03, 2014, 09:03:41 pm by Adaire »

EJay

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Re: How Might We Reconcile Pagan Spirituality with Modern Science?
« Reply #38 on: October 04, 2014, 02:23:02 am »
Quote from: Adaire;161114
^^ This, science is just the language and tool that we use to explain what we perceive. Though in our society it is considered to have almost divine authority, even though various scientific theories in all fields have been proven wrong, or tweaked and whitewashed to appeal to social trends.

For me, the study of science highlights divinity. How easy it  is to see the divine in the process of life. For example, when the ductus arteriosis & foramen ovale close at just the right moment at birth so an infant's circulatory system goes from linked with the mother to independent. Yes, it's evolution, yes, there is a physical reason it happens, but it is also beautiful and super complex and being able to explain the process does not remove the miracle for me, YMMV of course.


Edited to add periods and break up a massive run on sentence...

 
Exactly for me, too.  The more I learn with science, the closer I feel to God.
If you understand, things are just as they are.  If you do not understand, things are just as they are.

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